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How much would YOU pay to skip customs?

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And although U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to succumb to federal budget cuts, this hasn’t stopped people from traveling and suffering-and even more so. More than 3.2 million passengers went through JFK’s customs last year, up 12 percent from 2009.

NEW YORK, NY – Record-long wait times in customs are further plaguing the already abysmal experience of modern-day air travel.
 
It comes at no surprise that John F. Kennedy Αirport leads the nation with an average 36-minute customs line, up eight minutes (22 percent) from last year due to cuts in staff, according to a study by Global Gateway Alliance.
 
And although U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to succumb to federal budget cuts, this hasn’t stopped people from traveling and suffering-and even more so. More than 3.2 million passengers went through JFK’s customs last year, up 12 percent from 2009.

The last decade proved to be a worldwide gold rush, as the world travel market grew by 60 million annual visitors. This astonishing number, however, didn’t benefit the U.S., which welcomed essentially the same number of visitors as it did in 2000, with a market share declining to 12 percent from 17 percent.
 
Millions of would-be tourists who wish to travel to the U.S. are being turned away and left frustrated by cumbersome and bureaucratic State Department procedures, which deny their visas. Recapturing the lost share of the tourist market would yield 98 million more visitors, $390 million in additional exports and $859 billion in total economic output by 2020, according to a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association.
 
International travel supports 1.8 million American jobs, and travel is the country’s largest industry sector, generating $134.4 billion annually--about 25 percent of all service exports. Increasing travel to the U.S. would be the most efficient and effective form of economic stimulus.
 
But before this happens, U.S. airports need to figure out how to ease their customs issues.
 
And the custom delays aren’t a problem solely on the East Coast, either. Los Angeles International Airport has a 31-minute customs wait time while passengers out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport will wait for about 23 minutes on average.
 
But in America, money can buy you an Express Pass through the dreaded customs line. And why not? The same principles are applied at the security checkpoint for a mere $10 with JetBlue’s “Even More Speed” and expedited lines for Business and First Class flyers, said Julia Jacobo, vice president of CookTravel.net.
 
“Traveling these days is a horrid experience as it is, with smaller seats and the majority of flights operating at full capacity,” Jacobo said.
 
About one dozen businesses, including Miami airport, the city of El Paso, Texas and Jay Peak ski resort, have applied for a pilot program under the Cross Border Enhancement Act, which encourages alternative sources of funding to ease border delays, according to TravelMole. Customs delays are costing them both money and customers.
 
The money contributed by these businesses will go toward hiring more staff, allotment in the budget for overtime pay and other services. After reviewing the applicants, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will choose five this summer.
 
A statement from customs said: we’re working on it.
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